FEMA does a heckuva job, again.

When I heard that FEMA was coming to Southern California earlier this week, I had the same thought Mack had: No, thanks.

Excuse me for being a little unimpressed, but based on the agency’s recent record, I hoped they’d let the professionals who were already on the ground keep doing what they were doing, do their stupid press conference and photo-op, and get the hell out of town before they fucked anything up.

Well, it turns out that FEMA can’t even do a press conference correctly. They faked it.

“Are you happy with FEMA’s response so far?” a reporter asked. Another asked about “lessons learned from Katrina.”

“I’m very happy with FEMA’s response so far,” Johnson said, hailing “a very smoothly, very efficiently performing team.”

[. . .]

But something didn’t seem right. The reporters were lobbing too many softballs. No one asked about trailers with formaldehyde for those made homeless by the fires. And the media seemed to be giving Johnson all day to wax on and on about FEMA’s greatness.

Of course, that could be because the questions were asked by FEMA staffers playing reporters. We’re told the questions were asked by Cindy Taylor, FEMA’s deputy director of external affairs, and by “Mike” Widomski, the deputy director of public affairs. Director of External Affairs John “Pat” Philbin asked a question, and another came, we understand, from someone who sounds like press aide Ali Kirin.

Yeah, that’s right. FEMA faked a press conference — some cynics may just call it propaganda — when they came to town.

Heckuva job, guys. Now get the fuck out of here before you hurt someone. You may not have noticed, but we’re in the middle of a disaster at the moment. B.la captain Dave Markland pointed out that this fake press conference didn’t happen here, but happened in Washington, D.C. FEMA claims that they couldn’t get the actual press there in time, so they had FEMA staffers ask the same questions the real journalists had already been asking (because NBC repeatedly asked, “Hey, why are you guys so awesome?” over and over again, apparently.) This laughable bullshit excuse was barely believable if they were actually here, where maybe the press was busy in other places covering other breaking events, but in Washington? Yeah, that makes a whole lot of sense, doesn’t it?

Anyway, I regret the error.

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10 Replies to “FEMA does a heckuva job, again.”

  1. Gotta love these guys. At this point, I’m more worried that FEMA might hurt themselves.

    “We’re here to help. Here’s a bottle of water and a phone number. You can also go to our website, if you can find access to a computer. We’re with the government, and we will find these fires and root ’em out.”

    We all know after Katrina that we’re on our own. It’s just nice to see that people are sticking together as a community.

  2. Not that it matters, but to clarify, this press conference was held in DC, and we never “see” the people asking the questions, never do they introduce themselves as journalists.

    Really, is it too hard to believe that this was really just misrepresented as a press conference when in fact it was just a staff meeting to allow for some face time with the boss?

  3. David: FEMA portrayed it as an actual press event, and their lame excuse that the fake journalists were just asking the same questions they’d been getting from the real journalists seems to indicate that this wasn’t a staff meeting that was inadvertently portrayed as a press conference.
    It seems like they got caught trying to spread some Stalinist propaganda, and — like everything else FEMA’s done under Bush — they fucked it up.

  4. Fifteen minutes notice. In Washington. Bogus reporters. Lame declarations of self-awesomeness.

    As the kids like to say, Oh Emm Eff Gee.

  5. It’s a shame, because FEMA was a huge help after Northridge. My place was red-tagged, and I had a check for $2100 within two weeks. Bush sucks.

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